The Global Poker Index (GPI) has been a point of interest ever since it was first created in conjunction with the Epic Poker League (remember that?).
After the league folded, the ranking system remained, and it has been one of the higher-profile ways for poker fans to see who’s hot and who’s not in the world of tournament poker ever since.
But the GPI didn’t have many ramifications for players, at least until now.
The Global Poker Masters (GPM) is a new GPI-sponsored event that will pit eight teams from top poker nations against each other, and players qualified for the tournament based on their GPI rankings.
While the GPI had already announced the invitations for the eight teams earlier, it remained uncertain how many of those players would actually participate in the event.
Even the organizers expected some to pass on the opportunity to play, but hoped that the majority would turn out to make it a credible high-level event.
In the end, it looks like they got what they wanted, as only five of the 32 initial invitees declined their invitations.
Two of those players were Americans, with both Dan Colman (who few expected to take part) and Pratyush Buddiga dropped out. Internationally, the UK lost Stephen Chadwick, the Canadian team will be with Mike “Timex” McDonald, and Artem Metalidi is out from the Russian squad.
If anything, however, the players who will be replacing the missing stars are even more impressive.
Team USA will add Olivier Busquet and Bryan Kenney, while the Canadians are bolstered by former World Series of Poker Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel.
Sam Trickett is the addition to the UK team, while Russia will see Igor Yaroshevsky added to their lineup.
“There have been no disappointments,” said Alex Dreyfus, CEO of the GPI. “There were some schedule conflicts for them and I wanted players that were keen to commit. Players who were keen to participate, but couldn’t guarantee their attendance had to make way for the player next in line.”
With four players on each team committed to the tournament, which will take place on March 21 and 22 at the Hilton Protomaso in Malta, that leaves only the fifth and final roster spots to be determined.
According to Dreyfus, this will be done through a combined effort by the teams and poker fans.
“Each team will give us two names that are in the GPI 1000+. We will then put those names out to the general public to vote for their favorite one,” Dreyfus said. “That ensures a nice balance between the opinion of the player and the fan.”
Dreyfus says that the GPM is part of an effort to “sportify” poker, making it into a game that’s easier to follow for casual fans and one that offers more events that will generate mainstream coverage.
An international event with no buy-ins, removing some of the gambling aspect (and risk to the players), could do just that.
“This is Poker’s first legitimate World Cup, made possible by an unbiased team and nation selection process carried out by GPI,” Dreyfus said in a statement. “The goal is clear: We want to #SportifyPoker and bring this mind sport to mainstream recognition for the game’s 100+ million global fans.”